Yesterday, Apple introduced us to its latest gadget, the iPhone 4S. Many of us expected to get both an iPhone 5 and iPhone 4s, but the rumors were wrong and some were left disappointed. iOS 5 was announced several months before, and the new iPhone is just a small hardware upgrade in comparison to the iPhone 4. So, was there anything special that required your attention last night? Yes, and its name is Siri.
Siri, Relative of HAL9000
Siri is a system that allows you to voice control your iPhone. Of course, this isn’t so revolutionary at first; you had voice-control years ago. However, was that really voice control? Really, the only thing you could have done was to dial someone. That wasn’t control, that was showing off.
Is the future here? Nope, not yet.
On the other hand, Siri will not only recognize the words that you’re saying, it (she?) will also understand the meaning of what you’re trying to do. Let’s say you need to schedule a meeting with Susan. Just press and hold the home button and when Siri shows up, say something like this: Schedule a meeting with Susan at 5PM tomorrow, or this: Tomorrow at 5PM I need to meet with Susan and Siri will process that, open up the calendar and create the event. All you have to do is to confirm it.
Apple’s Scott Forstall gave an amazing presentation of Siri’s features and I must admit, it works pretty well. Speech and voice recognition is great and as with everything that Apple makes, it appears to work like a charm. Still, I don’t think I’ll want to use it.
Siriously, I’m Smarter Than You
As great as the Siri system is, it still isn’t something really useful, something that will change your habits. If I’m working on my computer I would rather schedule a meeting in my Gcal which is synced with my iPhone than to talk to Siri. It’s because on my computer I can clearly see my other appointments for some particular day, I don’t need to ask Siri and wait for the response. There is no lag on my computer, iPad or iPhone. Siri also supports voice dictation so now you can dictate your messages right into the phone. How many of you used dictation on your desktops? Just as I thought.
Although Siri is interesting, it’s nothing more than that. When I want to talk to my iPhone like I’m talking to my real-life personal assistant, I don’t want to wait for it to process what I’m saying and I certainly don’t want to confirm everything I say. Yes, I want that meeting in my calendar, why do I need to confirm it?
You’ll need to confirm everything you say because Siri, as smart as she is, she has a lack of confidence which makes her doubt herself. A newly-hired (human) assistant might need some training and confirmation from you, but after that, you won’t need to confirm your orders and assignments. Siri, however, will require you to confirm everything for as long as you use it.
What Apple needs to do now is to create some kind of a learning mechanism for Siri so after I command “Reply” and dictate my answer, I don’t have to confirm with Yes Siri, send it already. If Siri could learn about you and your habits, how you pronounce some words etc., it would make a much better, more Sci-Fi pumped personal assistant. When that happens, you will be able to really voice control your phone.
For now, Siri can only amuse us for a while, after which we’ll type our e-mails and hand-dial the person we want to call, just as we always have.